Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
LOS ANGELES, Calif., May 17 – Long Beach State (39-18) made a late rally to snatch a 9-6 win over Southern Utah (23-31) at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday. The Thunderbirds came back to take the lead after an early 4-0 deficit, but the 49ers plated five runs in the sixth to eliminate SUU from the championship tournament.
“We attained what we set out to do this year by winning the conference,” stated SUU coach Tracee Hoch. “I thought we put up a good fight here and helped to establish a tradition of making it to the regionals.”
The 49ers put up two scores in the first inning without recording a hit after taking advantage of an error and walking in a run. Hannah De Gaetano then drove a double off the wall in left center with the bases loaded to bring two more home and stretch the difference the 4-0.
SUU got on the board in top of the third when Kadi Henderson lifted a three-run shot down the third base line to make it a one-run game. The hit also set a school record as the Thunderbird infielder knocked out her 32nd career home run to become the program’s all-time leader.
“I didn’t know I set the record,” said Henderson. “I just knew I needed to get a hit with a runner on third and was excited when it went over.”
The T-Birds captured their first advantage of the NCAA Regional in the fourth inning after Lyndsey Healey tied things up with a lead-off home run and Sara Park drove a two-run RBI single into left field to put Southern Utah in front, 6-4.
Long Beach rallied with five runs in the sixth inning to retake a 9-6 lead. Tupua started the scoring with a two-run RBI double, and a pair of SUU errors led to the final three scores of the afternoon.
Senior pitcher Ariel Hart (9-11) tossed the first five innings without an earned run before allowing three in the bottom of the sixth. Katie Greenberg gave up the other two runs before being replaced by Ashley Ostler who recorded the third out.
Amanda Hansen started in the circle for LBSU, and was charged with six runs on six hits before being relieved by Erin Jones-Wesley (20-10) in the fourth inning. She would pick up the win after holding SUU scoreless through the final three frames.
Southern Utah’s season comes to an end after making the program’s third appearance at the NCAA Regionals and capturing its first Big Sky Tournament title.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to end it,” commented Henderson. “I’m so proud of our team and all that they went through to get here.”